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Cathy Olkin Colloquium Abstract (Mar 2, 2016)

Our New View of Pluto From NASA's New Horizons Mission

After traveling for more than 9 years, NASA's New Horizons mission accomplished its prime objective - the initial reconnaissance of the Pluto system. On July 14, New Horizons passed about 12,500 km from Pluto's surface, flying between Pluto and the orbit of Pluto's large moon Charon.  The seven instruments on board the spacecraft include a high-resolution imager, a color imager and short-wave IR imaging spectrometer, a UV spectrometer, two in-situ plasma instruments, a dust detector and a radio science experiment.  Data from these instruments have provided a wealth of new information on the Pluto system and have transformed our understanding of this world.  Highlights of scientific results from the flyby of Pluto will be presented including the discovery of mountains on Pluto, smooth plains of ice that show evidence of flow, high altitude haze in Pluto's atmosphere, large chasms on Charon, and an enigmatic red spot on the north pole of Charon.